One of my earliest memories is of sitting on the garage floor, helping my dad to make wine. If I was really good, I got to do the bottling. I’m pleased to say that he’s moved on from crab apple to Claret, but my subsequent interest in wine, including the production process, is probably no surprise.

I first came across the Urban Wine Company in a Radio 4 programme on the River Wandle, which flows through South West London, where we live. The company acts as a collective for local growers all over London and the South East: in the autumn, grapes are collected from growers across the wine, and processed to produce a wine, which is affectionately known as Chateau Tooting. The 2009 vintage was recently launched with favourable reviews in Decanter! They will also provide vines for new members.

Although we don’t have much space, I fancied giving vine growing a go, and my baby vine arrived last week. We opted for a white variety, Solaris, which I gather is fairly hardy and suitable for ‘marginal climates’. It will be a couple of years before we get any fruit to contribute to the harvest but I understand it gives wines which have ‘fruity and perfumed aromas with hints of banana and hazelnuts, with medium acidity’. The UWC allows members to put their own labels on the wine, so we look forward to sampling Chateau Hewitt in due course.

As you can see though, this is quite a long way off at the moment…

Bare-rooted Solaris Vine

Baby Solaris Vine

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